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Antigone and to Kill a Mockingbird


Submitted By risingup16
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“ To kill a mockingbird” by Harper Lee and “Antigone” by Sophocles are both dramas having to do with justice, the main characters in both dramas are struggling to bring justice to a society or situation that was lacking. In Sophocles’ drama, Antigone was trying to bring justice by burying her brother Polyneices against the kings, Creon’s, orders. While in “To kill a mocking bird” Atticus is an attorney in a case where race is a major issue and he is trying to save Tom Robinson from being convicted of a crime where there’s overwhelming evidence of his innocence. Both “Antigone” and “To kill a mockingbird’s” themes seem to revolve around justice which is proven when Antigone buries her brother and Atticus agrees to take on Tom Robinsons case. Another large theme in both dramas is the idea that women are somehow ‘lesser’ because of their femininity, a cause of this might be because of the era that the dramas are set in. Throughout “To kill a mockingbird” Scout does her best to avoid ‘girly’ things so that she can keep playing with her brother Jem, its only later in the novel that Scout begins to realize that being a girl is more about having positive traits than lacking them. This theme continues in “Antigone”, most pointedly when Ismene states “Bethink thee, sister, we are left alone; Shall we not perish wretchedness of all, If in defiance of the law we cross A monarch's will?--weak women, think of that, Not framed by nature to contend with men. Remember this too that the stronger rules; we must obey his orders, these or worse. Therefore I plead compulsion and entreat the dead to pardon. I perforce obey the powers that be. 'Tis foolishness, I ween, to overstep in aught the golden mean.” Ismene clearly means to say that because they are women she and Antigone cannot defy the state and bury Polyneices that they are too weak and not made to contend with men. Both “To kill a Mockingbird” and “Antigone” have ideals about women and femininity that are at least altered by the end of the novel. Justice plays a major role in “To Kill a Mockingbird”. A majority of the ending of the novel is occupied by the trial and how it plays out. Scout and Jem are only just beginning to really realize and become aware of the cruelty and hate of the world they live in. Their first real glimpse into the segregation and unfairness that surrounds them is during the trial and as they try to learn the story behind the case that’s affecting their lives, in the form of teasing and knowing glares from the people in their town, the children become more and more aware of the unspoken rules and regulations that govern their society. Even with overwhelming evidence of his innocence Tom Robinson is still forced to endure a trial and is still put to death, merely because of the color of his skin. Atticus tries his hardest to get the truth to be enough to save Robinson, even knowing that in that day and age, regardless of whether or not he was truly innocent, Tom was still most likely going to be blamed. The severity of this punishment when his innocence was so clear is just proof of the unfairness and injustices in this society. "Atticus, you must be wrong...." " How's that?” "Well, most folks seem to think they're right and you're wrong...." Scout says in chapter 11 in the novel. An important aspect of the novel is that even though many people knew that Tom Robinson was innocent no one was willing to stand up and say anything in his defense, many went so far as to outright lie, willing to let the innocent Robinson die rather than take responsibility for their actions. Unlike the others, Atticus, was well aware that even though most people were against him taking the case and many didn’t believe in Robinson’s innocence just because he was black, Atticus knew that just because a majority believed him to be wrong, that doesn’t mean that he is. People are more than willing to follow in the footsteps already made by another, because that’s easier than creating your own path, but Atticus was willing to go that extra mile and forge that new path if it meant saving and standing up for an innocent man. "Scout," said Atticus, "nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don't mean anything —like snot-nose. It's hard to explain—ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody's favoring Negroes over and above themselves. It's slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody.""You aren't really a nigger-lover, then, are you?""I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody... I'm hard put, sometimes—baby, it's never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn't hurt you." Here Atticus is trying to explain to Scout how the society they live in really works. People are afraid of what they don’t know and Atticus points out that being a ;Nigger-lover isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it only shows that instead of being closed minded and being unwilling to learn about people who are different that instead someone is willing to look past all of the things that make people different and focus on the things that make us the same, that make us human. Atticus shows that disparity doesn’t automatically mean inequality, and that the insults people seem to toss around without a second thought tend to say more about the people throwing the insults than the people who the insults were meant for. “So far, things were utterly dull: nobody had thundered, there were no arguments between opposing counsel, there was no drama; a grave disappointment to all present, it seemed. Atticus was proceeding amiably, as if he were involved in a title dispute. With his infinite capacity for calming turbulent seas, he could make a rape case as dry as a sermon. “ Atticus was not trying to make the case ‘fun’ or by any means make it enjoyable to watch, he was trying to make sure everyone understood the severity of the case and how important it was to listen to all of the facts to come to a fair unbiased conclusion on Tom Robinsons Innocence, or lack thereof. The main issue in this society is that people don’t seem to care about the case itself, they are attending the trail because its ‘what everyone’s doing’ or because they think it will be fascinating or entertaining to watch, the verdict, to them, is irrelevant, almost an afterthought people are only truly interested in watching the spectacle that the case has become. Justice also plays a major role in “Antigone”, she fights throughout the entire play for her brother Polyneices to be buried and given the warriors burial he deserves rather than just being left out on the battlefield to be picked over by animals and such. Seeing this injustice Antigone buries him and is forced to face the consequences of her actions in front of the King Creon. Antigone Seeks true justice for her brother, she goes and buried without any regard for the consequences, unlike her sister Ismene who refused to play a part in the burial. Antigone was willing to pay the ultimate price for justice to be served. Antigone is battling between two types of justice throughout the play, Divine justice as set forth by the Gods, and States justice, as set forth by man, mainly by Creon for the duration of the play. From a different perspective the theme of justice could be that Antigone believed that burying her brother served a higher form of getting justice, by following the law created by the gods rather than by Creon. By burying Polyneices, twice, she shows that she firmly believes that divine laws trump state laws. That she is more concerned with obtaining divine justice for her brother than states justice and that regardless of the cost she will stand up for what she believes in. “’Would'st thou do more than slay thy prisoner? ‘Not I, thy life is mine, and that's enough.’‘Why dally then? To me no word of thine Is pleasant: God forbid it e'er should please; Nor am I more acceptable to thee. And yet how otherwise had I achieved A name so glorious as by burying A brother? So my townsmen all would say, Where they not gagged by terror, Manifold A king's prerogatives, and not the least That all his acts and all his words are law.’” Antigone’s reasoning may not be entirely selfless though, with this quote we see that Antigone may be so willing to accept death not because she truly craved death but because she believed that death was the only option left and it was preferable to living in a world where human rather than divine law was practiced and accepted. “I didn't say yes. I can say no to anything I say vile, and I don't have to count the cost. But because you said yes, all that you can do, for all your crown and your trappings, and your guards—all that your can do is to have me killed.”Antigone is very adamant in her beliefs, and she knows that she has the strength and the will power to take whatever ‘Creon’ deems necessary as punishment for her actions because she will have done right by her Gods. Creon on the other hand is bound by rules of society, by the laws set forth by the people he has chosen to lead, and though he doesn’t want to have Antigone executed, he has no other choice but to follow through on what’s expected of him as King. His desires pale in comparison to what’s required of him, what he accepted when he became king. Femininity is another reoccurring concept in both dramas. Scout tries her hardest to stay away from things that might be considered ‘girly’ out of fear of being seen as lesser or weak, and the same occurs in Antigone with Ismene, who believes that Antigone and herself have no power to fight the king because they are women and they were not made to contend with man, but both of the main characters manage to overcome these ideals. Scout by realizing that women are more than society makes them out to be, and Antigone by ignoring the ideals set out for her and instead choosing to do what she believed was right. “Well, let her know the stubbornness of wills Are soonest bended, as the hardest iron, O'er-heated in the fire to brittleness, Flies soonest into fragments, shivered through. A snaffle curbs the fieriest steed, and he Who in subjection lives must needs be meek. But this proud girl, in insolence well-schooled, First overstepped the established law, and then-- A second and worse act of insolence-- She boasts and glories in her wickedness. Now if she thus can flout authority Unpunished, I am woman, she the man. But though she be my sister's child or nearer Of kin than all who worship at my hearth, Nor she noryet her sister shall escape The utmost penalty, for both I hold, As arch-conspirators, of equal guilt. Bring forth the older; even now I saw her within the palace, frenzied and distraught.
The workings of the mind discover oft Dark deeds in darkness schemed, before the act. More hateful still the miscreant who seeks when caught, to make a virtue of a crime.” Creon here is showing an example of the rules set forth on the society Antigone is living in, he is saying that women are weak and were made to be restrained by men, that the law was to be composed and enforced by men and women have no say. “’Not even death can make a foe a friend’ ‘My nature is for mutual love, not hate.’ Die then, and love the dead if thou must; No woman shall be the master while I live.’” Creon says in a conversation with Antigone. Here he show that he based his decision on Antigone’s fate not on evidence or even rationality but rather on her gender and the role he’s come to expect women to fulfill. “’Play not the spaniel, thou a woman's slave. ‘When thou dost speak, must no man make reply? ‘” Creon even goes so far as to insult Haemon by saying that he is inferior to Antigone which, in his eyes is a great offense. Both To kill a mockingbird and Antigone have major themes dealing with justice, To kill a mockingbird deals mainly with Atticus’ case and attempting to prove Tom Robinsons innocence While Antigone has more to do with the contrast between Divine Justice and worldly justice. Both dramas also had ,major themes having to do with femininity, in Scouts case, realizing that being girly and feminine is not necessarily a bad thing, while in Antigone’s case having to overcome the set ideal that women are less, or weaker than men.

Works Cited
"Antigone - Sophocles - Ancient Greece - Classical Literature." Antigone - Sophocles - Ancient Greece - Classical Literature. Web. 18 Mar. 2015. <>.

"Antigone." Antigone. Web. 18 Mar. 2015. <>.

Metcalf, Stephen. "Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. ." Web. 19 Mar. 2015. <>.

"To Kill a Mockingbird Themes: Prejudice, Racism, Justice and Courage." To Kill a Mockingbird Themes, Prejudice, Racism, Justice. Web. 19 Mar. 2015. <>.

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1960. Print.

Sophocles. Antigone. 441. Print.

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